Leaves are exploding upwards. First, on the wildflowers and the underbrush. Then shortly, on the smaller redbuds and dogwoods, and then later on the big oaks and the hickories. It's Spring. It's a cool day for spring, but that's just because it's still April and it's threatening to rain. It's warm enough for a t-shirt, though. I meander down Stewart Street, past the coal plant and construction work, across the continuously busy Providence Street, and onto the MKT trail. Ah. Natury. Rooted life of all sorts, littering the ground. Also, a lot of litter. I pick up some of the litter and throw it away. People suck, honestly. I remember telling Joel I'd rather save a puppy from having it's leg ripped off than save a baby from having it's head ripped off. I probably would. I mean, which one would be destined to make the world a better place? Puppies don't litter. I return my attention back to the natury, to the carbon suckers. Trees are the perfect kind of life. They help the environment, they probably love their lives unless they have some tree disease which would be akin to a human having a thousand mosquito bites and no way to itch them, and they generally mind their damn selves. Man, that's some nice bark on that....tree. Oh, and those branches on the tall spindly one to my right — how do they do that? All the trees have tiny leaves on them today. They're finally budding! The leaves on that....one look sharp. That....thing over there has already flowered. It's covered in dazzling purple. I wish I was a tree.
Wait a minute. Besides the tulip tree I had in the front yard of the house I grew up in, I realize that I can't identify a single tree. In the world. That's incredibly stupid of me. I realize that, as far as I know, I think there's a whole lot of people who can't identify more than four kinds of trees. That's super pathetic, I continue to realize. Sure, I didn't grow up in the Appalachian Mountains or on the West Coast, but I feel like everyone could use a little bit more tree in their lives. I never once had a science lesson on identifying trees in grade school or in high school. Yet I think I spent an entire quarter of the 4th grade learning about different kinds of clouds. Or a two-week lesson in the 6th grade learning about which rocks are igneous and which ones are sedimentary and which ones are metamorphic. That's essentially 2.5 kinds of rocks.
Why not trees? Trees seem to be the most poorly underrepresented demographic in modern society. So sit down, LGBTs, my attention is on trees now. Trees are literally all around us, almost everywhere we go, yet the average person knows little more than a) whether or not it's an apple tree, b) it's age if you count all the little ring things, c) that it will die if you strip its bark all around the trunk, and d) it's a plant. I mean, there are a lot of trees around the world that were around when Jesus walked the earth. There are some that were alive when Abraham made those two or three religions. Think of all that untapped wisdom we're ignoring. It's depressing how tree-ignorant we are.
In the days following my realization, I spent, like, two hours researching trees that grow in the Midwest in my ultra official National Audubon Society First Field Guide to Trees. My knowledge and interest in trees has grown eightfold. They've become, essentially, my brothers. Their branches reach out to me with love, and I accept them with open arms. Won't you?